Justice Joseph Tine Tur, JCA of blessed memory has been described as one of the best and brightest jurists Nigeria has ever known, and as possessing deep, profound, didactic and gargantuan intellectual prowess.”
It has equally been observed that his manner of setting out his judgments displays a striking semblance with the florish exhibited in the judgments of the erudite genius and law Lord, Alfred Denning (M.R)
He passed away on the 3rd of October, 2019, having contributed immensely to Nigerian case law and jurisprudence.
He was appointed a judge of the Benue State High Court in February, 1993 elevated to the Court of Appeal in July, 2010 .
As Nigeria and the judiciary in partcular prepares for his burial on November 2 ,2019 at his hometown in Tombo Mbalagh council Ward, Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State, we wish to bring to you, his biographer and some of the striking judicial pronouncements of Justice Joseph Tine Tur, JCA which may bear out the commendation that he “brought fresh revolution to judgment writing in Nigeria… he simplified judgment writing; made it readable and elaborate for research purposes”.
Just like the popular hymnal “Fading away like the stars of the morning; only remembered by what we have done”. Honourable Justice Joseph Tine Tur JCA (Deceased) has left an indelible mark on the pages of history particularly in the legal world.
Justice Joseph Tine Tur JCA was born on the 19th December, 1955 in Gondozua, in Ugba, Logo Local Government Area of Benue State into a humble family of peasant farmers Late Pa Hilekaan and Late Mama Kukase Tur. His parents in search of arable land for agriculture relocated from his homestead NKST Aminde, SBuruku Local Government Area of Benue State.
Justice Joseph Tine Tur had his primary education in Practicing Primary School Yelwa, Bauchi State (1964-1965); Saint Mary’s Catholic Primary School, Samaru- Zaria, Kaduna State (1966-1968); Township Primary School, Jos, Plateau State (1968); St. Jarlaths Catholic Primary School Bukuru, Plateau State (1969).He proceeded to Boys’ Secondary School, Gindiri, Mangu Local Government Area, Plateau State (1970-1974). He graduated from University of Nigeria (UNN) Nsukkka, Enugu Campus (1975-1979) having bagged the Bachelor of Law (LLB)Hons.and was called to the Nigeria Bar in 1980 with the Barrister of Law (BL). During his NYSC HIS Lordship served in the Legal Aid Council/Ministry of Justice, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria from 1980 to 1981.
Justice Joseph Tine Tur JCA commenced his career with B.M Wifa , (SAN) & Co. in Port Harcourt Rivers State from 1981-1982. In 1982 his Lordship took up appointment with the Benue State Judiciary as Magistrate Grade II and served in the Judiciary till 1983. He resigned his magistracy appointment and went into private legal practice from 1984 to 1991. He worked in notable firms like Agan Yaji & Co., Gboko, Baba Adi & Co., Tine Tur & Co. His Lordship in 1992-1993 took up appointment as Director of Public Prosecution, Ministry of Justice, Makurdi, Benue State.
Justice Joseph Tine Tur was appointed on the 3rd day of February , 1993 as Judge of High Court of Justice, Benue State Judiciary where he meritoriously served for 17 (seventeen) years .He rose to number four (4) in the hierarchy of Judges High Court of Benue State. On the 14th day of July, 2010 he was elevated as Justice, Court of Appeal where he served till his death on the 3rd day of October, 2019.His Lordship served in the following capacities in the Judiciary.
i. Chairman, Local Government Election Petition Tribunal No. 2 Benue State in 1991.
ii. Member, Governorship and State Houses Of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal at Uyo, Akwa Ibom ; and Umuahia , Abia States in 1998.
iii. Chairman, Local Government Election Petition Tribunal Zone “A” sitting in Makurdi , Benue State in 2003.
The Benue State Government appointed his Lordship as Chairman Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Execution of Contracts /Projects from 1999-2006 Benue State set up by His Excellency Senator George Akume JP.
Justice Tine TUR JCA. was married with children. Among his children are two barristers namely Raymond Vershima Tine Tur and Nguavese Tine Tur. His Lordship ask legal practitioners “Who will inherit my books , if my children are not lawyers? Will ants chop my books?” His Lordship’s hobbies include Farming, Community Development /Social Works, Soccer and Table Tennis. He was also authors of the following books:
i. Sharia and the Constitution, 2002.
ii. When the Holy Spirit Hovers, 2007.
iii. I will build my Church, 2008.
iv. Law and principles of Tithes and Offering 2010.
v. The Reigned the Martyrs, 2012.
Justice Tine Tur JCA. believes in the following guiding principles “In righteousness shalt thou be established…” (Isa.54:14KJV) and “For the Lord love justice. I hate robbery and wrong doing …”(Is.61:8 NLT).His lordship has various notable judgments to his credit notably among is Nyuma vs. AOR(2008)respectively.
Justice Joseph Tine Tur, JCA had been an asthmatic patient since he was a student of Boys Secondary School, Gindiri, Plateau State. He was able to manage this illness till his adulthood. Sometimes in 2003, he was diagnosed of diabetes. His health deteriorated as a result of the kidnap of his wife, Mrs. Esther Nguumbur Tur, JP on the 7th day of June, 2018 and had been in and out of hospital.
After several admissions in Makurdi, Enugu and Abuja. Justice Joseph Tine Tur, JCA was flown to Fortis Escort Heart Institute, New Delhi, India on October 12, 2018 for medical attention. On 30th October, 2018, he returned to Nigeria and back to his office after much improvement. He continued his medical check-up at Abuja and Makurdi. He showed some signs of illness again on the 8th day of September, 2019 and was admitted at La Vida Clinic & Maternity, Makurdi and discharged few days when he seemingly recovered. He was hale and healthy at his official residence in Makurdi when he had an asthmatic attack in the early hours of 3rd October, 2019 and gave up the ghost almost immedialy.
People especially leaders sometimes have short fuses. This is because most times they deal with so many things at the same time which inexorably tasks their intellect, emotions and physical strength. Justice Joseph Tine Tur, JCA is not an exception and had same experiences. He was not a perfect man, he has his foibles and frails but he was without question a jolly good fellow.